ACM Study Abroad 2020

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Summer 2020 – ACM Study Abroad Experience in Oberammergau, Germany

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Course Description

Once each decade, the townspeople of Oberammergau, Germany produce a passion play – a dramatization of Jesus’s life and death – on a scale that dwarfs any other in the world.  Rehearsals last six months.  Half the town’s residents collaborate to put this on, and nearly a thousand actors occupy the stage together for the crowd scenes.  Actors are joined by a massive community choir and orchestra.  500,000 people flock to this tiny town to see this play over the course of its five-month run. 

They’ve been doing this since 1634, but the play is changing.  Until recently, it was routinely produced by an all-white, all-Catholic, mostly-male cast, and it was widely considered virulently anti-Semitic.  But now a new director has taken over.  There’s a new and more inclusive vision.  The town’s residents – men and women – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and atheist – share the stage.  Traces of anti-Semitism remain, but with each iteration of the play, the artists work creatively to acknowledge, understand, and expunge them.  

The Department of Arts Culture & Media at UTSC is offering a summer course in May-June 2020, in which students study the Oberammergau Passion Play and experience it first-hand.  We will investigate this nearly 400-year-old tradition, why it persists, and how it is changing.  In Oberammergau, we’ll not only see the play; we’ll also interview cast members, musicians, administrators, audience members, and others in the town. We will seek to better understand what the play means to them, how the tradition is changing, and how the production influences their understanding of this mythic narrative. 

Professor Elliot Leffler (Theatre & Performance Studies) will teach the class and lead the trip, and will engage students in original research he is conducting on the passion play.  Manaal Hussain (ACM Program Manager) will also accompany the group to Germany.  The class will meet intensively throughout May and June, with one week in Germany from May 5-12.  It will be worth 0.5 credit.



This is a D-level course for advanced students throughout ACM who have demonstrated an aptitude for critical inquiry and collaboration.   Students applying should already have at least 15 credits.  Students with fewer than 15 credits can still apply, provided that they have at least 1 credit (2 courses) at the C- or D- level within ACM. 

Preference will be given to more advanced students, to students who have done more extensive coursework in ACM, and students who have demonstrated the highest levels of commitment to academic rigour and collaboration. 



Thanks to generous support from UTSC, costs to students are minimal.  We anticipate that the flights, accommodations, and theatre tickets will be fully funded.  Students will have to pay individually for tuition and meals.  Students are able to apply for additional funding through UTSC’s Global Learning Travel Fund to cover the costs of meals.


Students’ Responsibilities

Students accepted into the ACM Overseas Experiential Learning Course must:

  • Enrol in, pay tuition for, and complete the course requirements of a summer 2020 ACM course that meets Monday afternoons throughout May-June
  • Be fully available to travel to Germany (May 5-12)
  • Attend two preparatory meetings during the final exam period (which will be scheduled so as not to conflict with exams), and three additional preparatory meetings during the final week of April (after the conclusion of exams)
  • Canadian Citizen Students: Ensure that your passport is valid through at least August 15, 2020. Click here for more information.
  • International Students: Obtain a visa to visit Germany, if you need one.  (This will depend on what country you’re from.  Check this website to see if you need a visa to travel to Germany.)


Application and Deadline

Applicants should fill out all fields in the attached application and submit to ACM Communications by email ( no later than 12 noon on Monday, Feb 10, 2020. Late applications will not be accepted.


Eleven students and four alternates will be selected by a committee of ACM faculty. The committee will consider applicants’ performance across all courses in our department, their demonstrated aptitude for collaboration, and the potential for future benefit. 



Please direct questions to Elliot Leffler (

Download Application PDF

Watch Informational Video